Best selling author Jeremy Dronfield's new book to Penguin

Puffin has secured Fritz and Kurtz by Jeremy Dronfield, a retelling of the “extraordinary” true story The Boy Who Followed His Father Into Auschwitz (Penguin Michael Joseph) for middle-grade readers.

Commissioning editor Tom Rawlinson acquired world rights, excluding North America, from Andrew Lownie at the Andrew Lownie Literary Agency. The book will be published in paperback and e-book in January 2023.

Lownie said: “Jeremy Dronfield is a very talented writer and researcher and the adult version of The Boy Who Followed His Father into Auschwitz was deservedly a bestseller throughout the world with rights sold to 21 countries. This version for children should bring this remarkable and powerful story to new readers. I am proud to be associated with it.”

In The Boy Who Followed His Father Into Auschwitz, Dronfield retold the story of Gustav Kleinmann through the latter’s secret concentration camp diary. Now, adapting the account for readers aged nine and over, Dronfield hopes he will help educate and inspire children with a powerful account of two brothers’ experiences during the Holocaust.

Fritz and Kurtz will follow the brothers of the title who – on opposite sides of the world – navigate “one of the most appalling periods in modern history”. With immense courage, they find the hope that can emerge even in the darkest times.

The synopsis reads: “In 1938, Hitler’s Nazis come to Vienna. Fritz and his little brother Kurt wonder what will happen. The Nazis hate everyone who isn’t like themselves, especially Jewish people. Fritz and his father are taken to a Nazi concentration camp – a prison of death and fear. But when his father is sent to Auschwitz, the most evil, deadly place on earth, Fritz can’t face losing his beloved Papa. He chooses to go with him. Meanwhile, to be safe from the Nazis, Kurt must go on a frightening journey, all alone, to the far side of the world. These two brothers long for the family they left behind, wondering if they’ll ever be able to return home…” David Ziggy Greene’s “sensitive and informative” illustrations will accompany the text and the book will be published alongside teaching resource to support readers and contextualise its history.

Rawlinson commented: “I am immensely proud that Puffin are publishing this book. The Boy Who Followed his Father into Auschwitz was a work that astonished me when I first read it… and I am astonished all over again by this retelling. With immense skill, Jeremy brings the remarkable stories of Fritz and his brother Kurt to a children’s audience. He has done that most extraordinary thing – writing these terrible events in a way that is sensitive to the age group, but ultimately honest. And I cannot think of a better illustrator than David, whose artwork is just so brilliant, and adds to the emotional power and truthfulness of the story.”

Dronfield added: “I can’t describe how thrilled I am to have had the opportunity to create this all-new, illustrated retelling of this incredible story. Ever since The Boy Who Followed His Father into Auschwitz was first published, I’ve had readers tell me how deeply affected they’ve been by the story of Fritz and Kurt, and that they want their children to be able to read it. When I first saw David Ziggy Greene’s cartoon work, I knew I’d discovered the key to making a children’s version a reality. It was important to me that this must be a completely new telling of the story, not just a simplified edition. I revisited my original research, uncovering new information and fresh insights, explaining things that had been mysterious before, and truly unlocking the experiences of two boys sent along such different, traumatic courses.”

About article author

Jeremy Dronfield

Jeremy Dronfield

Jeremy Dronfield is a versatile, multi-faceted writer with four novels to his name. He came to writing via a circuitous route. His first serious stopover in life was as an archaeologist. After a few years in rescue excavation, he did his doctoral research at Cambridge University, on the subject ...More about Jeremy Dronfield